The Vancouver Canucks won't have to wait long to try and continue their recent dominance of the Edmonton Oilers
The Canucks look to extend their franchise-record winning streak over the Oilers to seven games when the Northwest Division rivals wrap up a home-and-home series on Saturday night at GM Place.
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Vancouver (2-2-0) got goals from five different players and extended its winning streak over Edmonton (2-3-0) with a 5-2 win on Friday. The Canucks have outscored the Oilers 26-12 since a 4-0 home loss on Dec. 4.
Friday's victory came two days after being routed 8-2 at home to Philadelphia, causing general manager Dave Nonis to criticize the Canucks' poor play. Vancouver set franchise records last season with 49 wins and 105 points, and won its second division title in three seasons.
"The bottom line was we had a much better work ethic," said forward Alex Burrows, who scored a short-handed goal Friday that gave the Canucks a 3-1 second-period lead. "We battled a lot harder around the boards and made smarter plays, higher percentage plays. That was the key right there."
Roberto Luongo has been stellar during the Canucks' winning streak over Edmonton, posting a 1.99 goals-against average after making 28 saves Friday. That also reduced his GAA this season from 4.23 to 3.56.
But the Canucks have been outscored 11-3 in two losses with Luongo starting both times. A 47-game winner last season, Luongo has a 5.44 GAA at home so far in 2007-08 after being pulled with six seconds left in the first period Wednesday, when he surrendered four goals on just 13 shots.
If Luongo is rested, backup Curtis Sanford would get his first start for Vancouver after joining the team as a free agent from St. Louis in the offseason. Sanford is 5-0-0 with a 2.32 GAA in six career starts against the Oilers, but was shaky Wednesday in relief of Luongo, allowing four goals on 17 shots.
Offensively, the Canucks have totaled 12 goals from nine different scorers with center Brendan Morrison, left wing Markus Naslund and right wing Ryan Shannon netting two each. Shannon, though, was sent to Manitoba of the AHL on Thursday.
The Oilers have dropped three straight after opening the season with back-to-back wins. They also have lost both of their road contests this season.
Edmonton's skid, which has seen it outscored 11-4 with only one power-play goal in 12 attempts, is a reminder of its woeful 2-17-1 stretch to end last season out of the playoff picture less than a year after losing in the Stanley Cup finals to Carolina.
"It's not the time of year to start naming names," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said after Friday's defeat. "Collectively, it falls on all of us to find a way to win hockey games. We had a lot of opportunities, it just seemed at times we were a little impatient. It was a frustrating game."
Backup goaltender Mathieu Garon was chased early in the second period Friday after allowing three goals on 11 shots. Dwayne Roloson replaced him and made six stops.
Roloson, who is 1-2-0 with a 2.48 GAA in four games, could get the start Saturday as he tries to halt Edmonton's losing streak and improve his 0-3-1 record and 3.26 GAA in his last five games - four starts - against Vancouver. He started the Oilers' last win over the Canucks, stopping all 36 shots.